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Staffing changes made to cover open CAAN teaching positions | Local

When classes at Rapid City-area schools begin Aug. 30, teachers will be ahead of students.

Acting Deputy Superintendent Mike Talley gave a brief update to the CAAN Board of Education at its Tuesday meeting on the number of students enrolled and the number of teachers.

“We’re in the same situation as almost every school across America right now with teacher shortage issues,” he said. “The principals have been extremely creative and solution-oriented, putting in long hours figuring out how to put the teachers in front of the students on the first day of school.”

Talley said the district will have an increase of 273 students from where the district left off at the end of the 2021-22 school year. He said while there have been enrollment deadlines, the district will continue to enroll students through the start of the school year.

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He said week after week the district has done a better job of filling positions and getting to where it needs to be.

Talley said Tuesday that the district has three elementary positions to fill at two different schools.

“These are regular class positions,” he said. “They are not interventionists or reading or literacy aids. We still have a number of these positions to fill, but if we do not fill them, we can always start the school year and have a teacher in every class.”

Talley said that at the college level, there are three vacancies at two colleges. He said the high schools have two positions in Central and Stevens. Otherwise, they hired all the other positions.

He said Central, however, spent a lot of time during the months of May and June establishing a schedule that compensated for the shortage of teachers.

“At the high school level, principals get very creative looking at online options and virtual options and doing other things to compensate for that,” he said. “I really believe that we will start the school year with all of our classroom positions for the school year. Once again, I want to congratulate the principals for their work.”

During public comments, a high school student from Stevens said she would be taking Spanish Four this year, but received an email stating that Spanish Four would not be offered. She said there were three options: two virtual, one paid, or drop the class.

Acting chief executive Nicole Swigart said there were two Spanish teachers at Central and Stevens who had already signed contracts but decided to leave after July 1.

“We came up with the best plan we thought we could at the time,” she said. “It’s very difficult to be faced with situations where you have to cancel fall or planned classes or programs. It’s absolutely not something I thought about before taking this job, but I quickly discovered that these are the hardest days I have encountered in education.”

Swigart said she would visit Talley and business manager Coy Sasse to find another possibility, but she is unable to manufacture teachers to fill difficult positions.

She said the district had really reduced the number of vacancies and that one of the ways to cover the positions was through involuntary transfers. She said some staff had been moved from posts further away from students to place them in front of classrooms.

“Mr. Talley and I remain committed to having certified staff in front of all of our students on the first day of school,” Swigart said. “Due to personnel issues and various things, adjustments have to be made which are not always seen as fair for the affected personnel, and that has also been very difficult.”

Swigart said the new cohort of teachers started on Tuesday.

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